Confucius – the Famous Chinese Philosopher

Not much is know about Confucius’ life, other than it was fairly unremarkable. He was born in 551 BCE – which in China was the 22nd year of the reign of Duke Xiang of Lu. In East Asia, September 28 is observed as Confucius’s birthday.

4406588934_a5968503ba_bHe was born in what is now known as Shandong province – but back then was called Qufu, which was in the feudal state of Lu. Throughout Chinese history, he was referred to as Kongzi or Kongfuzi (Master Kong), but in actual fact his family name was Kong and the personal name given to him was Qiu. Confucious is the Latinized version of his name and is not used in Chinese history. For the sake of this article, we will use ‘Confucious’.

Confucious’ family were commoners and living in near-poverty. It was clear early on that Confucious was an excellent learner and became known as a well-versed scholar. He made sure to seek out the right masters to teach him. He mastered the six classical arts (archery, arithmetic, calligraphy, charioteering, music, and ritual). He was also familiar with the classical traditions, including history and poetry.

While in his 30s, Confusious started a teaching career. He wanted to make education widely available and was noted as the first teacher in China who championed this. It was Confucious who had a big part in establishing teaching as an actual vocation.

His devotion to learning and training was with the aim of improving and transforming society. He knew that public service as an integral part of education and tried to get involved in politics. His life in government was short-lived, as the power-holders were unhappy of his alliance with the king, and the inner circle of the king were unhappy with Confucious’ moral rectitude. He left the country in a self-imposed exile for almost 12 years but still built a loyal following. He returned home at age 67 and spent his time teaching, and writing and editing his classical traditions. He died at age 73, with approximately 3000 followers and 72 of his students who had mastered the ‘six arts’.